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Immigration operations target illegal workers.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Immigration operations target illegal workers

Friday 18 July 2008

Immigration compliance operations in the Victorian regions of Robinvale and Swan Hill this week have located 17 illegal foreign workers, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said today.

Senator Evans said the 17 Thai, Malaysian and Filipino nationals were all working illegally in the agriculture industry and are now in immigration detention while arrangements are made for their removal.

Fifteen of the group did not have valid visas while two others were working in breach of their visa conditions and have subsequently had their visas cancelled. All 17 had originally arrived in Australia legally on valid visas and were located after a community tip off.

Senator Evans said compliance officers, often with assistance from state police, make regular visits to workplaces and properties in many parts of Australia in an effort to detect people who are in the country illegally or who are working illegally.

‘The Government is committed to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s visa program by locating people who are working illegally or overstaying their visas,’ Senator Evans said.

Compliance statistics show that detection of illegal workers is tracking towards a 20 per cent increase in 2007-08. In the first three quarters of the year, to March 31, there were 1179 illegal workers located Australia-wide, compared with 1308 for the full year in 2006-07.

The highest numbers of illegal workers to March 31 were found in Victoria (354), New South Wales (281) and South Australia (219).

Nearly a third of the illegal workers located in 2007-08 were from Malaysia (374), followed by China (145), Indonesia (89), the United Kingdom (67), the Philippines (51), India (50), Vietnam (48) Thailand (44) South Korea (32) and Ireland (21).

Senator Evans said it was the responsibility of employers to ensure they only hired people with the right to work in Australia.

‘Severe penalties can apply to people who hire workers who do not have work rights in Australia,’ Senator Evans said. ‘Rogue employers face fines of up to $13 200 and two years’ imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66 000 per illegal worker.’

The department provides a range of services for employers to check work entitlements, including the free Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service, which allows employers to provide relevant identification details of prospective employees with their consent to quickly confirm that they are eligible to work in Australia.

People with information on illegal workers or visa overstayers should call the Immigration Dob-In Line on 1800 009 623.